Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's (Slowly) Getting Better

Last week wasn't much fun, to tell you the truth.  Jason had an infection, Savannah was a little sick AND teething (really, I'm not sure if there's a better combination in a baby), and Sonja decided that she should just start randomly peeing all over the house, because, really, what else would I rather do than clean up dog pee five times in a day (that was a personal record for her)?  Jason and I joked that we'd been having it too easy...things had been going too well for us, so it was only fitting that we have a rough week.  It's too bad, though, that it was the first week were fully on our own.  But, things are starting to improve.  Both Jason and Savannah are feeling better (though the teething is still something of an issue) and Sonja decided to behave last night!

In the midst of all this chaos, however, Jason was forced to help out in ways he didn't know he could.  He has changed Savannah's diapers (for the first time since the accident), gotten her fully dressed and ready to go in the morning, he can start laundry for me (when he discovered this new feat, he began by prefacing the statement with, "I'm not sure if I should tell you this, but..."), and he's almost to the point where he can take Sonja out for a short walk around the apartment complex.  Sometimes you need challenges and problems to force you to push yourself further, so, in this regard, last week was really good for us.

Jason is still going to Google twice a week, and working from home the other three days.  In November, he'll ramp that up to three days per week in the office.  That'll actually start next week, because he has to get some routine tests done at the hospital on Tuesday.  The Google shuttle will begin picking him up for work in December, at which point he'll be in the office four times per week.  He'll stay at four times per week for a while, since he has SCI-FIT on Thursdays, and it doesn't make too much sense to drive in to Mountain View, only to have to leave two hours later for therapy. Speaking of SCI-FIT, Jason's therapists have really begun to notice some changes in Jason.  He's getting a lot stronger in his hips (which he needs in order to start the braces in January), and is getting much more control over his movements.  We're really lucky that SCI-FIT is so close to us-some of the patients there travel up to three hours one way, just to be able to take advantage of their program. I'm certain that Jason would not have made all of these gains so quickly without this program.

And now, on to some pictures!  These are from the last few weeks and, per usual, are primarily of our sweet little girl.  Sorry that they're a bit out of order.


At our apartment complex's harvest party



She wasn't a fan of getting her picture taken...

Jason at PT

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Discovering new ways to play

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Our Own

Well, we knew it would happen at some point...we've been on our own since Saturday morning, when Jason's stepmom, Kim, headed back to Virginia.  We've been incredibly lucky to have our parents stay with us for the past three months while we've adjusted to our new lives.  There were MANY days that their presence made a difficult situation better.  I expected the first few days sans parents to be bumpy...and they were :)  The past few weeks have gone by incredibly smoothly, so I guess we were due a speed bump or two (or three or four).  Jason experienced a few complications over the weekend and into this week-nothing too bad in terms of possible SCI complications, but enough to throw a wrench in our routine.  We think we've gotten them under control, and have made the necessary adjustments to his meds, but, in the process his work schedule got a little off-track (he normally goes to the office on Mondays and Tuesdays, but he had to work from home yesterday and needed to leave work a bit early today).  So, as much as this weekend was rough, we got through it just fine.  I think if we can navigate a weekend of complications on our own, then we'll be more than alright when things settle down again.

And, we're not totally on our own anyways.  We've got a great network of friends here in the Bay area that I know are there to help should we ever need it.

Other than that, we're doing well.  The rest of the week should be pretty busy-our little social butterfly, Savannah, has multiple Halloween parties to attend, Jason has his standard SCI-FIT appointments, and I'll be busily chauffeuring them between these various engagements :)

Apologies that this isn't a longer post.  I felt like I had more to write when I sat down, but I'm exhausted...I'm definitely feeling the loss of our "safety net."  I'll try to write more next time.

Love you all,

Ashley

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Today was a GREAT day :)

First off, the videos from Sunday's post should now be working.  Not sure what went wrong there...

And now, on to the exciting news of the day.  Jason got cleared to remove his "training wheels" from his wheelchair.  His PT thinks he's doing great with wheelchair mobility: he can go up and down curbs, and even knows how to go down a flight of stairs in the chair, should the need arise.  This is a big deal in the wheelchair world-he's not a "rookie" anymore.

On top of that, his PT began talking with him about when he'll be ready to get braces to start with walking :)  Protocol dictates that he wait at least 6 months post-accident before starting with the braces, so he's still got three more months to go, BUT he now has a clear list of what needs to happen in that 3 month period in order for him to move forward.  He has to be able to do 50 continuous dips (to make sure he has the endurance for walking) and needs a bit more movement in his hips.  I have a feeling that he'll have all this done before his 6 month checkup, but some prayers and good thoughts sent our way would be much appreciated.

And...to save the best news for last...he's got some more sensation!  Woohoo!! This morning, he was able to (faintly) feel me massaging his right foot. It's not a very strong feeling, but, he closed his eyes and was able to correctly indicate when I started and stopped massaging, so we're extremely optimistic!

Some days can be tough, but then you get days like today...and our spirits are lifted and renewed.

Love you all,

Ashley

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Catching Up and Getting Away

Hi Everyone!

Sorry for the delay between posts.  I was waiting to get some new video from SCI-FIT before posting anything new...I think you'll all agree that the wait was very much worth it.  But, before I get to the videos, let me catch you all up on what's been going on in the last week or so.

Jason started back to work on October 3.  He was supposed to work from home for the month of October, before slowly transitioning back into the office beginning in November.  Well, as I've learned throughout this whole recovery process, Jason doesn't do slow :)  He went back into the office Monday and Tuesday of last week.  It went really well.  He was definitely tired when he came home on Monday, since wheeling himself around the Google campus is a bit harder than doing the same at home, but, overall, it was a great experience.  The new plan is for him to continue going two days a week for the next couple of weeks, and then slowly ramping up to full time (in the office) in early December.

He's still having some issues with his legs/feet swelling after a long day in his chair, but we're looking into a few options to make that less of an issue.  I got him a foot rest to use at home at his computer, and we're hoping to rig something similar up at Google.  Also, I just ordered some leg massagers for him that are supposed to be really great for helping with circulation.  Fingers crossed, that will work.

Jason and I went on a little mini vacation this weekend, thanks to his stepmom, Kim, agreeing to watch our girls for us :)  We didn't venture too far afield from home, just in case something went awry (or I decided that I couldn't be away from Savannah for so long...).  It went wonderfully.  We got a chance for some alone time (and went on a few "real" dates to the movies and a nice restaurant!), and Jason got to see that travelling out of his comfort zone wasn't really all that bad.  Prior to the accident, Jason traveled for work on occasion, and he'd like to be able to do that agin.  He's actually tentatively planning on attending a Selenium conference in London in April, so this little trip was a way to begin prepping for that.  We've learned that the best way to ensure a smooth trip is to over-plan and over-prepare....thankfully, I really like planning :)  So going to London should be a breeze...

And now....the videos....

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Working on the FES Bike


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More hip adductors are coming online :)

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Practicing his balance.  He's gotten SO much better with this!

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A different way of doing the bench press :)

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Ok...so this isn't Jason.  I was trying to catch Savannah trowing her toys off the couch, over the dog bed.  Instead, I got this....

Hope you all are doing well!

Ashley

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Three Months

Today marks three months since Jason’s accident.  It feels like it’s been a lot longer than that, probably because our lives have changed so dramatically in that time.  It would be easy to be sad today, but instead we’re going to celebrate what strides he has made in this time period.  Honestly, his recovery up to this point has been borderline miraculous, so there is so much to celebrate.  For those of you keeping track at home, here’s where we’re at...

Mobility:  VERY good.  He can do all transfers independently and, since moving to his new wheelchair, he has started ditching his transfer board for most transfers.  He still needs it for the car, but that’s a pretty big transfer (close to 12 inches between the two seats), so it’ll probably be another month or two before he can get rid of that one.

Pain:  Not much of an issue.  He’s off of all pain medications, including ibuprofen (though he’ll take this on the rare occasions pain is a problem).  His ribs seem healed and his incision area on his back doesn’t bother him.  He seems to be in the lucky 50% who doesn’t have to deal with chronic pain post-SCI.

Exercise and Therapy:  Jason is finished with occupational therapy, and goes to physical therapy at the hospital once a week.  He’s working primarily on wheelchair mobility with his PT.  He can do wheelies, and is learning how to safely go down stairs in the chair.  He can also get from the floor to his wheelchair on his own.  I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be doing PT-at least through October, and probably a bit into November too.  He also goes to SCI-FIT twice a week, for two hours on Thursdays, and three hours on Saturdays.  This is a pretty intense regimen, but he’s made tremendous gains thus far.  In addition to this “formal” therapy, he does stretching exercises at home, and tries to get out with Sonja when possible.  We’ve gotten kind of lazy with this, though, because all of our visiting family members have been great about walking Sonja.

Daily Life Activities:  He can do everything on his own.  Occasionally, I’ll step in to help when we’re running late, but I’ve left him on his own for several hour stretches and he’s fine: he can get in and out of bed, shower, make his own food, get set up on the computer, etc, etc.  

Sensation/Motor Control:  His biggest gain in the last few weeks has been his hip control.  He’s also feeling “deep touch” in his lower belly area.  He still can’t consistently feel touch around his belly button, but if he pulls the hair in that area, he can feel that.  When sensation returns, it tends to return this way, deep to surface.  When he works out at SCI-FIT, he has, on occasion, been able to feel the muscles flexing in his upper thighs.  According to his therapists there, all he needs is a bit more motor control in the hip flexor area, as well as some quad control, to be able to start walking with braces and a walker.  That’s really exciting :)

Biggest Problem Area: Getting faster with his morning routine.  Trying to get this down to a reasonable amount of time, so that he’s ready to take the 7:30am shuttle come December 1.

Biggest Success: Heading back to work full time, regaining hip control, getting the new wheelchair...so much to choose from!

In the next month, we hope to.....  continue the transition back to work (he’s heading in tomorrow for a full day at the office), see more gains with motor control and sensation.

Let me know if I’ve left something out that you’d like to know about, or if you have any questions that I haven’t gotten to.

Love you all,

Ashley

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Back to Work and Other Adventures

Jason went back to work on Monday.  He’s working from home right now, with plans of transitioning back into the office beginning in November.  I’ll be surprised if he takes that long, though.  He already asked last night if I would mind driving him to Google some time next week.  :)  Even though he was pretty anxious about “officially” being back to work, it went really well.  He seems to be enjoying what he’s working on and has even volunteered to do some phone interviews (for those of you who know him, you’ll know exactly how unusual it is for him to voluntarily take on extra interviews).  While he’s working (and on the days Savannah is at school), I’ve been working on my dissertation.  I’ve also begun planning my first research trip to Edinburgh.  I’m planning on heading to Scotland in early January for about two weeks.  I’m not quite sure how I’m going to be able to (emotionally) leave Savannah and Jason for that long.  Gail is planning to come out here to help with day-to-day things, so I’m not worried about them.  Just not sure I can be away for that long...

So far, the wheelchair is working out nicely...with a few exceptions.  It’s definitely more maneuverable, but his feet have begun swelling up pretty badly after a few hours in the chair.  We talked to his PT about this during yesterday’s session, but she wasn’t quite sure why the chair would cause this.  She suggested raising the foot plate a little bit, which we’ll do later today, and to continue some of what we’ve already started: getting him to raise his legs up (which, unfortunately, means getting back in bed for an hour or so at mid-day...thankfully, he can take his lap top with him and keep working), using compression socks, and limiting salt intake.  Hopefully, this will work itself out within a few days, because it has made him more than a little uncomfortable.  The chair also seems to lead to an increase in leg spasms once he’s out of the chair.  He doesn’t have any while sitting (the spasms have actually been fairly under control the last 2 weeks or so), but, as soon as he gets out of the chair, his legs rebel.  In the grand scheme of potential SCI complications, however, these are pretty minor problems to be dealing with.  It may take us a few days, but we’ll figure out how to get it all under control.

Jason’s dad is here with us now and is becoming accustomed to the routine around here.  I think it’s been good for him to see that Jason is doing well, in addition to seeing the hospital Jason was in for so long, going to PT sessions, and, tomorrow, going to SCI FIT with him.  Savannah has definitely enjoyed getting to spend so much time with all of her grandparents over the last 3 months :)

In other news, we’ve decided that we simply did not have enough going on in our lives, and, as such, decided it was time to begin potty training Savannah.  We’re only doing VERY basic potty training right now-having her sit on her potty chair (which she calls her “bucket”) in the morning and evening before bed.  We’re mainly just trying to get her comfortable with the whole concept of it all before proceeding any further.  Yesterday morning, she was doing really great with sitting on the toilet and then, all of a sudden she stood up, squatted down....and peed all over the carpet.... So, yeah, we need to work on the concept of WHY she’s sitting on her bucket....  Thankfully, Sonja was close by and came in to clean up (gross, I know).

So, that’s what’s going on with us.  Hope all is well with everyone.

Love you all,

Ashley